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Before Ubuntu Was SimplyMepis: A Long-Term Review - page 2

The Big Move

  • May 11, 2009
  • By Susan Linton

My desktop is primarily used to maintain my Web site, write articles, enjoy multimedia, and when my grandchildren visit, play games. My daily applications include Konqueror, Kontact, tvtime, Kwrite, OpenOffice.org, The GIMP, and Konsole with Bash. These are the ones that are open practically 24/7, although many others are opened, used, and closed as needed. So I've noticed a few niggles here and there.

I like Konqueror. It's used by other people a lot less than Firefox, but I prefer it mainly for aesthetic reasons. Unfortunately, it doesn't function very well with some sites, so I like an up-to-date Firefox installed as a backup. One of my biggest complaints with Mepis is its snail-like pace at updating Firefox with security releases. SimplyMepis ships with version 3.0.6 and despite Mozilla's releasing 3.0.7, 3.0.8, 3.0.9, and 3.0.10, Mepis didn't send out any updates until several days after 3.0.9 was released. Now 3.0.10 is out, but an update still has not appeared in SimplyMepis repositories. So, to eliminate this security risk I've uninstalled the SimplyMepis version and installed the vanilla version from Mozilla. This way I'm advised of new releases right away and can update immediately. If this is the biggest problem one has with a distro, then they are doing pretty good. And it is. While this is the greatest issue I had with SimplyMepis, I did experience a few more glitches.

Since I do use Konqueror for the bulk of my Web work, I noticed some of its shortcomings right away. Neither main issue is necessarily exclusive to SimplyMepis although they may not be as noticeable in some other distros. The main problem lies with Nspluginviewer and its hogging of system resources. Just one instance uses enough of the CPU cycles to notice, but with several windows open, many instances may occur. One can simply disable it if they can live without flash, but that does make Konqueror much less functional and enjoyable.

Another issue with Konqueror is the performance degradation it causes the X session after several days of use. Even with Nspluginviewer disabled, my KDE desktop performance begins to slow down after a few days and continues to degrade until I find it necessary to restart KDE. Again, I've seen this in other distributions, but it seems to more pronounced in SimplyMepis.

Those were the main inconveniences, but there were a few other minor issues as well. Most of these were one-time mysterious crashes of programs such as Kb3, Kontact, and even Konsole. Additionally, there is a marked delay in window redraws and intermittent artifacting. It also seems to take longer than usually found in other distributions to manually mount partitions. Another is that the weather applet is never restored in the panel after restarting my KDE session. Finally, there is an issue of dropped frames while watching some multimedia video files.

SimplyMepis is based on Debian and as such, it uses APT and Synaptic for package management and updates. Debian Lenny repositories are configured for security updates in addition to the SimplyMepis software and update repos. I've used Synaptic to install lots of packages as well as approximately 75 updates and have not had one negative issue yet. In fact, SimplyMepis has delivered the most carefree upgrade process I've experienced.

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